I've been fulfilling the role of Mother in a big way since last I wrote. I don't know how it happened - well, I do know how it happened - but some huge change occurred the moment The Daughter turned five. The expectations! The demands! I haven't even had my obligatory afternoon nap since.
It started with The Ballet Show. I should have heeded when Precious Jo'burg Friend warned, "Dissuade her from ballet at all costs," but since I know - knew - everything, I soldiered forth, like a teenager learning to smoke, who continues to do so in spite of the vomitous taste and the disorientating head rushes.
I did not, in my hung over youth, dream of a time when I would be slave-driven and impoverished (oh the shoes that have gone unpurchased) by a ballet teacher (who, by the way, insists that children refer to her as 'The Ballet Queen' - talk about self-righteous). Especially not one who, at present, is about 160 in the shade, with acute halitosis to boot, a slight voice and a scant disregard for personal space. Honestly, the best thing about the woman having the gall to phone me at 6.45 am on a sleepy Sunday is the fact that I was not forced to have to endure the 27 minutes of wafting poo-breath in person. Seriously. It's a marvel that my interactions with her have not resulted in a solid six month bout of bulimia.
It started with the rehearsals - twelve freaking hours a week (for a FIVE YEAR OLD) - during which I had to busy myself with other ballet moms. There's only so much tea a person can drink! I've found myself so bonded with the inside of the local shopping centre that I could share, if I wanted, the gynaecological difficulties of the lady at the party shop particularly her difficulty in managing her post-partem hormonal imbalances; or the fact that the mechanic boyfriend of the CNA teller is a little too fond of the local pub and its regular good time girls.
Honestly, at twelve hours a week, I expected The Daughter to star as prima ballerina, wowing the audience with point work to rival Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
And let me not forget the costume fiasco. Fittings and measuring tapes and countless visits to the ballet outfitters for the right width and length and colour of elastics. I was raised by a woman (bless The Incubator) whom, I imagine, would have faced a dilemma as grave as attaching elastics to character (not ballet, mind you) shoes in a more practical though far less aesthetically pleasing manner. Something along the lines of winding duck tape securely around shoe and foot to ensure the shoe remains on foot for at least three-quarters of the required time. And colouring said duck tape in in the required colour. With a half-melted wax crayon.
But don't get me started on the shoes. Given, of course, that the original ballet shoes were not suitable for said show (because, in spite of the fact that I pay monthly through my nose for The Daughter's schooling in the finesse that is ballet, my expectation to see The Child of My Loins doing actual ballet in elusive Ballet Show was a far cry from reality. Because she would be dancing The Swiss National Dance and so needed character shoes.). Nothing charms a mother quite like bearing witness to her innocent five-year-old daughter clomping around the show in black high-heels. And not just one pair. (Oh no! That would have been almost affordable.). Two. Because at 12 hours of rehearsal a week, it's no wonder The Daughter danced two neat little holes the size of my face into each shoe not two days before Ballet Show. Honestly, I could have recycled those bags dogs into slightly too starched g-strings for the self. That is, of course, if I wanted a miniature heel popping out of crack. You never know, some people may fancy that look.
But I've done it all. I paid and paid and paid and took up a second job selling vital organs of which each person has two on the black market. And then I paid some more.
And then show day came. After weathering panicked phone calls and hushed breathy whispers from The Prima Donna one of which eluded to my general incompetency in the art that is tying The Daughter's hair in the bun, I found myself nervously chomping on fingernails and surrounding finger skin (a habit I kicked along with the dummy) in anxious anticipation for the grand entrance.
And then it happened: a few strained piano chords played over a loud speaker and The Daughter escaped from the curtains dressed like a garish Voortrekker wearing lipstick the colour of which would cause a coke can to appear pastel.
She tippy-toed on. She curtseyed. She looked left and pointed. Right and pointed. Left and pointed. And then she ran off.
Now don't get me wrong, she did the left-point-right-point-left-point-run with such aplomb that a fist-sized stone of emotion wedged itself quite neatly mid-throat causing an opening of the tear valves of pride. Really, she was the best little Swiss/1920 Settler you ever did see.
But at 12 hours a week! Twelve seconds on stage?
It was at that particular moment I had to have a stern word with self. You see, The Leopard Mum in me escaped. I was all but suing the woman for thwarting the chances of my uber-talented child genius ballerina from her rightful exposure in the realm of pre-school ballet concerts.
But the thing is, you see, my girl was the best little garish Voortrekker on that stage. And managed to steal the show in all four of her seconds of performance. Fact.